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Go away and come back

Monday 12 September 2022 at 7:45 in the morning

We went away this past weekend to a fishing camp which was located at the end of a fifty minute drive along a rough track over Laurentian rock. We drove at somewhat better than a walking pace. I recommend the periodic withdrawal from wider society, and the fishing camp was the perfect retreat: no yoga, no periods of silence, no meditation. Just reasonable people conversing on a dock and occasionally going boating on paddle boards and canoes. No fish were caught or harmed, it being the wrong season for trout on the surface . Plentiful food, wine and booze, though less than we  did in our forties.

In the time away, Her Majesty the Queen died, the Russians suffered a large defeat in Ukraine, and Pierre Poilievre was decisively affirmed as Conservative leader.

I don’t think that it is possible to exaggerate the immense stabilizing influence of Queen Elizabeth on the United Kingdom or the world. For seventy years she maintained a discreet and effective role as advisor and occasional admonisher to the great. She lived a life of unimpeachable dignity while still showing that she was not deceived by earthly pomps and quarrels. She was a devoted Christian and I think some of her annual Christmas messages were in fact sermons of profound relevance.

When we got the news we were in a restaurant in the village of St Jean de Matha, surrounded by French Canadians having lunch, who treated the matter, as I suppose legions of other nations would have,  with courtesy and respect. The Queen had earned the respect of people of many nations, including republicans of the breakaway United States. I think everyone naturally measures life ‘s events in terms of the life and death of Sovereigns, however powerless they may be in constitutional terms. Like the passing of Queen Victoria, the death of Queen Elizabeth will be marker between one era and the next.

Then we left the village to go to the the fishing camp. We drove along an atrocious rock- strewn path at 10 kilometers an hour. An hour and a quarter later, we unloaded cars and went by pontoon boat to the ancient fishing camp, an artifact of the era of lumber barons picking out choice lakes for their buddies to fish in. Huge beams, gas mantle lamps, and low to non existent internet connectivity, coupled with copious quantities of alcohol and food.

 

We heard the news of Poilievre’s decisive victory on Saturday night, by which I was greatly gladdened. Unfortunately I was surrounded by five  devotees of the milquetoast conservatism – if that is what it is – of Jean Charest, who are persuaded that Poilievre is the sure path of defeat for the Conservative Party. You know the type, I am sure: all reform is acceptable short of actual change. In terms that a western Conservative would be happy with, they were perfect exemplars of the Laurentian consensus. Highly intelligent people of good faith, the lot of them, but politically clueless, as far as I am concerned. If Poilievre fails, they will be sure to crow about my so called radicalism in leaving the sure path of Jean Charest. 68.15% of my fellow conservatives agreed that Poilievre was the better candidate, which should be enough to silence the whining of advocates of the losing candidates, even in a party that romanticizes losing.

Predictions are difficult, especially about the future. Nevertheless I think that the abhorrence I feel for the current Liberal government in Ottawa is shared by a possible electoral majority. We will either succumb to the Woke shit of Trudeau the Lesser, after we go down fighting it, or we will rescue the country. The Liberals and their media allies are asking us to acquiesce in the ruin of Canada,  and I for one will not abide it.

As to the Russian defeats in Ukraine, I am as surprised as I am pleased. I had thought that the Russians would take over Ukraine in six weeks.  The fact that large piles of equipment are being abandoned, so much so that this offensive marks the largest weapons transfer by far since Lend Lease, indicates that Russian morale is collapsing. In World War 2 , Allied soldiers noticed that the German soldier began to abandon usable equipment only in the Falaise Pocket in July-August of 1944, six years into the war. The Russians may rebound; the war is by no means over, but I think the recent defeats of Russian arms show that the era of Russia as a great power is over.

It is evident that the drone has come to be decisive. In many case the drone is substituting for an air force at a small percentage of the cost. Russians are abandoning equipment because, if they flee in their trucks and armored vehicles, they will be killed by drones. So they flee on foot. Drones are still not cheap enough to waste on individuals. They are however, sufficiently cheap to offer the less powerful an air force at a price they can afford. Much as I loved them, the tank has become too cheap to destroy relative to its utility as an offensive weapon. They talked of the foolish bravery of Polish cavalry attacking columns of German tanks; they will soon talk of the folly of tanks attacking across open fields  against anti-tank missiles and drones.

 

 

Stuart Parker deserves your attention

Stuart Parker, previously unknown to me, has precisely described the dynamic driving Canadian cultural and ideological conformity.

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As I predicted back in 2008, the people who now hold this belief that anything less than total control and absolute discipline is a sign of weakness and illegitimacy are now what pollsters politely call “the centre-left.”

Sadly, as with all broadly held cultural assumptions, these values concerning control, submission and dissent eventually escape their original context and run rampant through society. If people become convinced of a new moral order for how the world above them should run, it ultimately shakes down to the world below.

And we see this here with centre-left reaction to the national truckers’ protest in Ottawa. No permanent organization is running this protest, which appears to be built around social media, a GoFundMe page and a loose affiliation of local leadership groups developed in provincial protests by truckers over the past few years.

And of course, it does not represent all or even most truckers in the industry. The crew who are in Ottawa are whiter, more rural and more right-leaning than the industry as a whole, which is, in turn, whiter, more rural and more right-leaning than Canadian society as a whole. The folks in Ottawa are also more likely to be “owner-operators,” who have financed their heavy equipment through financial institutions. Those driving trucks owned by extended families or by trucking companies directly are much less likely to be part of the protest.

There is no doubt that a small fraction of these individuals are members of Canada’s tiny fascist militias, the Sons of Odin, the Proud Boys and other far-right political groups and that a disproportionate number voted for the People’s Party. In addition, the spirit of the protest and the issue it is taking up, vaccine passports, have attracted members of right-wing groups that are not themselves truckers but wish to express solidarity or see the protest as an organizing and recruitment opportunity.

Those of us who cut our teeth in the 1980s peace movement know this story well. The Vancouver Peace March used to attract 10% of the city’s population (50,000 protesters at its peak) for its annual walk across Burrard Bridge to support global nuclear disarmament. And, consequently, the vanguard of the march comprised the Trotskyites, Maoists and other communist sectarians and foreign dictator fan clubs who saw this as their big annual opportunity to radicalize and recruit ordinary anti-nuclear activists.

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Because Canadians, as a whole, but especially centre-left voters have now come to believe that the legitimacy of a movement inheres not in its size or the diversity of people and views it represents but rather in its ability to discipline and control its supporters, this protest looks both illegitimate and frightening. Not only is this protest not controlling the speech and signage of its members; it is celebrating its refusal to control these things and instead sticking to the basics of making sure protesters are nonviolent and law-abiding.

And, in progressive, urban Canada, this broad-brush guilt-by-association strategy exhumed from the 1980s appears to be working, no matter how intellectually lazy its journalistic practitioners are being.

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I am not writing this piece to advocate for the protest and its participants. I am writing this piece to ask Canadians like me whether we want our future protests to be judged and covered by standards applied to the truckers today. I am asking us to think about what happens to the horizon of possibility for mass organizing when we throw in with the idea that actual, authentic grassroots protests are a thing of the past and the only legitimate public demonstration is one choreographed from above, its participants carefully disciplined into reading from an identical script or into silence.

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As a person who, because I dissented from the progressive consensus on a single issue, has been smeared as a transphobe, homophobe, pedophile, white supremacist, racist and ableist in the past year and a half, I can no longer simply accept the opinion of centre-left media on whether someone is a dangerous, bigoted member of the alt-right. I can no longer trust the government-financed Canadian Anti-Hate Network on whether someone is a dangerous hatemonger because many of my comrades and I are on their list. And not everyone is going to be like me and check those claims against the facts. Most people will just start ignoring those claims.

There is a high price to pay when you decide to cry “wolf” over fascism in a political situation like our own, where the authoritarian threat is real and society-wide.

More importantly still, I am trying to sound a cultural alarm bell about the exaltation of order, disciple and control as Canadians’ primary political values. The fact is that those values are authoritarian. In a nation wherein rapid, dramatic change is not just a moral necessity but an ecological one, we need to retain the capacity for mass mobilization and our capacity to resist an authoritarian regime, irrespective of whether it calls itself progressive or conservative.

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Amen

They can’t help themselves: the divine right of being Liberal

I used to be the token conservative at a weekend gathering of Liberals in the lakes south west of Ottawa. It gathered a good bunch of people for talk, silly clever  word games, and more talk. They belonged to the Martinite faction of the Liberal party of Canada. This means that they had lost to the Chretien-ite majority. Some leading members of the group left for Reform, and stayed there. They were regarded by the remainers as lost sheep, but they were accepted. But on the whole the group had been young activists in the Trudeau the Greater period, ministerial assistants, activists, and they had all the virtues of the Canadian Liberal; bright, optimistic, active, and connected.

Several years of close acquaintance on these pleasant autumn weekends have led me to certain conclusions, and I have never had any reason to recant or modify them. And please recall these were the better sort of Liberal. I have met much worse and they share this characteristic I am about to describe.

They feel themselves to be morally superior. They are Liberal because they are morally superior. And they are morally superior because they are Liberal. This is the core belief. This explains many things about them. In policy terms they can switch from nationalist to free traders, from low tax libertarians to high tax collectivists, without any qualms. Because policy as such has no importance to them. What matters is being Liberal. To be Liberal is to be a better sort of person.

So of course they are not to be assessed by the outcomes of their actions. That would be unfair. They are to be measured by their good intentions. This is why I say about them that they cannot help themselves.

The unelected Liberal Kielburger brothers and the Liberal politicians Trudeau and Morneau are not to be judged by the obvious corruption of the financial arrangements between the WE charity and Trudeau’s family. They are to be judged by the obvious good intentions of the charity that the Kielburgers run. Of course Justin Trudeau is not corrupt, nor is his mother Margaret, nor his brother Sascha, the fanboy of Fidel Castro.

If you feel that you enjoy the divine right of Kings, you behave like Charles I. If you find yourself on trial for treason to the state, as King Charles did, your answer would be: “I am the state”.

If you feel you enjoy the divine right of being Liberal,  you do not need explanations, excuses, or reasons. What you do is for the best, by definition. So what I suggest, for the betterment of our country, is a state trial of Trudeau and Morneau for corruption. Where is our Cromwell?

“The self-flattery of the vision of the left gives its true believers a huge ego stake in that vision which means that mere facts are unlikely to make them reconsider, regardless of what evidence piles up against the vision of the left and regardless of its disastrous consequences.” – Thomas Sowell

The Vision of the Anointed: Self -Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy, 1996

 

Trudeau in costume

My reaction is: so what? All those opposed to political correctness should see this non-issue for what it is. In a few years people will wonder what an earth made this a “controversial” or embarrassing moment. I especially ask Conservatives to think about what trouble they create for themselves by empowering this kind of retroactive political correctness. Everyone in the past was guilty of something that PC condemns. It is all so 1984.

Failing to build pipelines – that is the issue for which Trudeau the Lesser should be deposed.

Mr. Dress-up